Gender is an important element in the construction of a society. In the early modern state's endeavour to impose discipline and control, perceptions of feminine and masculine roles were of considerable importance, laying down frameworks for the actions of women and men.
This thesis analyses the construction of gender in the light of existing norm systems and, in particular, legal practice. The subordination of women at a normative level is contrasted with the way women and men themselves acted and argued their cases in court, and how those actions and arguments were assessed. In the early modern period, the cases dealt with by the local courts reflect the different spheres - social, political and economic - of the surrounding society.
The construction of gender varied according to the sphere concerned. The political sphere was gender-neutral, in that the emphasis was on the relationship between the authorities and the subject. However, certain edicts had gender-specific consequences, and women were particularly liable to be accused of infringing the Luxury Ordinances. In the social sphere, gender-differentiated norm systems can be discerned, with different ideals for women and men, though with no explicit hierarchical order between the sexes. Symbolic capital was more dependent on the honour of the individual and the household than on gender. In the economic sphere, the subordination of women was clear, evidenced in particular by the fact that a capital, and women could compensate for their lack of this capital by having a man represent married woman was under the guardianship of her husband. Maleness served as symbolic them.
The multiplicity of action frameworks shows that there was scope for parallel constructions of gender, which also provided some freedom of choice for actors. Gender thus became, not only a norm or a recommendation for action, but also a basis for the strategies of women and men.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1998. , 337 p.